Thursday, December 10, 2009

neighbourhood safer places, two designated

report from the roundtable – 8 dec

At this week’s council meeting we had to consider two sites identified as potential Neighbourhood Safer Places (NSPs) as well as the Neighbourhood Safer Places Plan (NSPP - see
blog for background).

Work on our NSPP has been extensive, with our Emergency and Safety Planning area working hard to ensure the plan reflects the Yarra Ranges context. Since my last blog entry much has happened to ensure Yarra Ranges is in a position to consider designation of NSPs. The officers have done a phenomenal amount of work to not only get a NSPP in place, but to create an audit and assessment tool, organise additional site assessments and report back the results to council from one council meeting to the next.

The NSPP will assist council to identify, designate, establish, maintain and decommission an NSP. I joined with Shire and Emergency Services personnel in the site assessments at both Morrison’s Reserve in Mt Evelyn and Monbulk Reserve.

Both these locations passed not only the first assessment by the CFA, which only concentrates only on radiant heat or distance from vegetation, but also ticked the box on rights of access, ownership, access and egress, availability 24/7, defendable space, ability to appropriately sign and separation of vehicles from the actual NSP area (for example: the footy oval’s boundary fence).

At the meeting Council endorsed the two places, Morrison’s Reserve in Mt Evelyn and the Monbulk Reserve (footy ground) to become designated NSPs.
In speaking for the motion I pointed out to councillors that Yarra Ranges were the second council only to consider designating NSPs, an outstanding effort. I also talked about the community expectation around NSPs being available this summer. I reminded councillors that the legislation was very specific and councils must use their ‘best endeavours’ to identify and designate NSPs.

I talked about signage issues, at the time of the council meeting (and writing this blog entry) guidelines on NSP signage are still not available via the OESC. I also raised the issue of insurance gaps that still exist relating to potential NSPs not on council land.

Most importantly I spoke about the ongoing commitment for council to continue assessing potential sites as NSPs for the upcoming fire season.

I’m pleased to report that council resolved to designate the two NSPs and endorsed the NSPP as well. Council also resolved to seek urgent resolution of the outstanding insurance issues by writing to the MAV.

It is a good start in providing a place of last resort for community members. I still have grave concerns about the perception of NSPs, but you can read more about that in this blog entry.

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